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Draft Pandemic Treaty

Context:

The Draft Pandemic treaty also know as “Zero Draft”, is currently under negotiation by Member States at the World Health Assembly. However, there is growing concern that the provisions addressing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) are at risk of being removed from the final text.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Draft Pandemic Treaty
  2. Components of the Draft Pandemic Treaty
  3. Importance of Addressing AMR in the Pandemic Treaty
  4. Impact of Excluding AMR Measures
  5. The Urgency of Addressing AMR in the Pandemic Treaty

Draft Pandemic Treaty:

  • The draft pandemic treaty is an international agreement proposed to address pandemics and global health emergencies.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) and member states are involved in negotiations for the treaty.
  • The primary goal of the treaty is to enhance global cooperation and solidarity in dealing with health threats.
  • It encompasses various areas such as surveillance, detection, notification, access to health technologies, collaboration, and accountability.
  • The treaty is grounded in principles of human rights, equity, and solidarity, while recognizing each state’s sovereignty in determining its health policies.
  • It establishes key entities like a global health threats council, a global health threats fund, and an independent review and evaluation mechanism.
  • The draft pandemic treaty is a direct response to the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, with the aim of improving global pandemic preparedness and response.

Components of the Draft Pandemic Treaty:

Global Coordination and Cooperation:

  • Calls for increased global coordination and cooperation in preparing for and responding to pandemics and global health emergencies.

Strengthening Health Systems:

  • Emphasizes the need to strengthen health systems in all countries, especially in low- and middle-income countries, to enhance preparedness for pandemics and global health emergencies.

Access to Health Technologies:

  • Calls for improved access to essential health technologies, including vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments, during pandemics and other health emergencies.
  • Highlights the importance of investing in research and development of health technologies for diseases posing significant global health threats.

Transparency and Information Sharing:

  • Calls for increased transparency and sharing of information related to pandemics and global health emergencies.
  • Emphasizes the sharing of data on disease spread and the effectiveness of interventions.

Pathogen Access and Benefit-Sharing System (PABS):

  • Establishment of PABS under the WHO to ensure equitable sharing of genomic sequences of all potentially pandemic pathogens.
  • Aims to promote responsible and fair use of pathogens and their genetic resources in the development of medicines and vaccines, while respecting the rights and interests of providing countries and communities.

Gender Equality in Healthcare:

  • Addresses gender disparities in the healthcare workforce.
  • Aims to ensure meaningful representation, engagement, participation, and empowerment of all health and care workers.
  • Highlights equal pay and the removal of barriers specific to women in assuming leadership roles.

Importance of Addressing AMR in the Pandemic Treaty:

AMR (Antimicrobial Resistance) is crucial in the pandemic treaty due to the following reasons:

  • Resistance to Medicines: AMR refers to the process in which infections caused by microbes, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites, become resistant to the medicines developed to treat them.
  • Global Impact of Bacterial Infections: Bacterial infections alone are responsible for one in eight deaths worldwide, highlighting the significant impact of such infections on global health.
  • Diverse Causes of Pandemics: Not all pandemics are caused by viruses; past pandemics have been caused by bacterial diseases. It is essential to address AMR to effectively combat a wide range of pathogens.
  • Rise of Drug-Resistant Infections: AMR is contributing to the rise of drug-resistant infections, including drug-resistant tuberculosis, pneumonia, and drug-resistant Staph infections (e.g., MRSA). This poses a serious threat to public health.
  • Secondary Infections during Viral Pandemics: During viral pandemics, secondary bacterial or fungal infections can occur, necessitating the use of effective antibiotics. Neglecting AMR could impede the treatment of such infections.
  • Pneumonia and COVID-19: Research has shown that many deaths among hospitalized COVID-19 patients are associated with pneumonia, a secondary bacterial infection that requires antibiotic treatment.
  • Black Fungus Concern: AMR measures are crucial in addressing fungal infections like black fungus, which primarily affect immunocompromised individuals, including those with conditions like COVID-19 or diabetes.

Impact of Excluding AMR Measures:

  • Hindered Protection Against Future Pandemics: Excluding AMR-related measures would hinder efforts to protect people from future pandemics by neglecting a significant factor contributing to the spread and severity of infections.
  • At-Risk Measures: Measures at risk of removal include access to safe water, infection prevention, surveillance, and antimicrobial stewardship. Antimicrobial stewardship aims to improve the appropriate use of antibiotics and minimize the development of resistance.
  • Weakening Preventive Actions: Weakening the language of the treaty regarding AMR could potentially allow countries to opt-out of preventive actions, compromising global efforts to combat AMR effectively.

The Urgency of Addressing AMR in the Pandemic Treaty:

  • Global Collaboration: Tackling AMR requires international political action and collaboration to mitigate its impact on public health.
  • Pandemic Response and Preparedness: Safeguarding the effectiveness of antimicrobials is crucial for an effective pandemic response and preparedness, ensuring that necessary treatments remain viable.
  • Alignment with Broader Goals: Failing to address AMR in the pandemic treaty undermines its broader goals of protecting nations and communities from future health emergencies, compromising the overall effectiveness of the treaty.

-Source: Indian Express


February 2024
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